GOP Senator Ayotte compares Supreme Court nomination to “unconstitutional power grabs”

We have come to a point in right-wing obstructionism where the President fulfilling basic constitutional requirements is considered unconstitutional and dictatorial.

In a Medium post yesterday on her official re-election campaign account that included her statement on the current Supreme Court vacancy, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R – NH) explained that President Obama should not nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia. Instead, Obama should “let the American people weigh in” by sitting out the process and allowing the next president to select a nominee.

As Brian Beutler, among others, pointed out, the American people already did weigh in on this judicial appointment when they elected President Obama to a second term:

Scalia was 76 years old in November 2012, when voters returned Obama to office. His supporters were motivated in part by a desire to prevent the Court from drifting further rightward (it had just come within a hair’s breadth of voiding the Affordable Care Act, remember) and the hope, however distant, that Obama would turn it to the left.

However, Ayotte’s post goes a bit further than similar arguments made by her fellow Senate Republicans. Check out the bio at the bottom of her post (emphasis added):

Kelly Ayotte is the junior United States Senator from New Hampshire. A former New Hampshire Attorney General, she has consistently taken on the Obama administration’s unconstitutional power grabs and disregard for the will of the American people. Learn more here.

At first glance, one might dismiss this as a generic bio that isn’t necessarily related to the post. The bio on this post, for instance, is the same as the bio on all of my other posts. However, Ayotte’s static bio is below the bio copied above (it reads: “Wife, mother of two, former New Hampshire Attorney General, current U.S. Senator.”). Ayotte — or, presumably, her campaign — has taken the extra step of adding a separate, tailored bio at the bottom of each of her posts. They all mention that she’s a wife, a mother, the former New Hampshire Attorney General and a current US Senator, but they also include language relevant to the topic at hand. Here’s the bio at the bottom of her post from today, which asks her opponent in her upcoming re-election race to join her in signing a clean campaign pledge:

Kelly Ayotte, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Kelly Ayotte, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Kelly Ayotte is a wife, mother, former New Hampshire Attorney General, and current U.S. Senator. She has been recognized as one of the most effective members of the Senate because of her focus on results over rhetoric. To learn more, click here.

And here’s one from last week, in a repost of an interview Ayotte did with Refinery29 about motherhood and public service:

This article was originally published on Refinery29. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) is a wife, mother, former New Hampshire Attorney General and current United States Senator. Learn more here.

All this is to say that the bios at the bottom of these posts don’t just describe Senator Ayotte; they also describe what the post is about. This means that when Ayotte’s statement concerning the current Supreme Court vacancy is followed up with a line about “the Obama administration’s unconstitutional power grabs” in the bio, the post is meant to be read in the context of “the Obama administration’s unconstitutional power grabs.” That list would apparently include President Obama’s audacious decision to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia.

As a refresher, here’s what Article II of the Constitution has to say about that (emphasis added):

[The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

It would be well within the usual norms of American politics for Ayotte to “carefully consider” whomever President Obama chooses to nominate, and then choose to vote against that person’s nomination. It is well outside the usual norms of American politics to declare before a nominee has even been suggested that they are not fit to serve — that your vote is predetermined.

But it is downright strange to insist that the very act of nominating a jurist to fill a vacancy — as mandated by the Constitution — is in fact unconstitutional. It doesn’t do much other than dilute the term down to “political action I don’t like.”

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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40 Responses to “GOP Senator Ayotte compares Supreme Court nomination to “unconstitutional power grabs””

  1. peteywheats says:

    he shall nominate

  2. TellMeImDreaming says:

    And people used to laugh when I called Republicans an organized crime syndicate. What more proof do you need after this attempted robbery?

  3. beachweird says:

    Don’t you know it’s their constitution, and their flag ..they have copyrights on them.

  4. Don Chandler says:

    Well, maybe the recess trick. But the Senate, back then, never said that they would not confirm any nominee put forward by Reagan…We ended up getting Kennedy–a conservative I actually like.

  5. ComradeRutherford says:

    Full disclosure: I’m pretty sure the Dems did something similar when a GOP president wanted to appoint another Bork.

  6. slavdude says:

    he (or she)

    That reminds me: just imagine if Clinton *does* get the nomination and win the general election. What do you bet the Republicants will go on for years about how the Constitution refers to “he” when talking about the President (thus implying that a woman cannot be President), as if eighteenth-century English used that pronoun exclusively for males of the species rather than as a generic term for any human being whose sex is not already known?

  7. slavdude says:

    I think they can count on their intended audience taking them at their word rather than reading, much less comprehending, the Constitution for themselves. Kind of like the Bible–frequently cited, seldom read.

  8. Badgerite says:

    “Unconstitutional power grab”? You mean BPWB. (Being President While Black)
    “3/5ths of a presidency” , indeed.

  9. Don Chandler says:

    I like the approach ;)

  10. Teresadhayes says:

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  11. ComradeRutherford says:

    What really amazes me is that there are people out there that actually believe this shit.

  12. ComradeRutherford says:

    The GOP has done this gag before, where one Senator goes to the Senate floor at 9am and announces the senate is in session, then leaves again. This is the gimmick to prevent Presidents from making appointments because the Senate is technically in session.

    I said this earlier, Obama should walk over to the Senate with the press in tow, stick his head in the door, verify there’s no one in the room and then announce his recession appointment.

  13. ComradeRutherford says:

    Typical Conservative Politician. When a Democrat obeys the Constitution, it’s treason.

  14. dcinsider says:

    By that logic, Senator Ayotte should refrain from voting on any matter before the US Senate until after the election this fall, when her constituents have the chance to “weigh in” on whether they want her to represent them anymore.

  15. Don Chandler says:

    Is there anything wrong with doing a recess appointment if the senate is going to block Obama? They have also blocked more lower court nominees. It’s a disfuctional congress. They are not in check at all. Time to just go nuclear. I voted for Obama so he could appoint scouts as needed. There is absolutely nothing special about Scalia.

  16. nicho says:

    Ask Hillary. That’s her “claim to fame” too.

  17. MoonDragon says:

    Ms. Ayotte, where in the constitution is it written that the only legitimate exercises of Presidential powers are those that promote a structural corporatist/Republican/cultural conservative advantage?

  18. The_Fixer says:

    At what is she effective? What does “results over rhetoric” really come down to?

    The answer: a sentence in a bioblurb.

  19. The_Fixer says:

    And scream they did, when the Democrats tried the same thing with Reagan. The Dems were incorrect then, as the Republicans are incorrect now.

    Of course, the Republicans possess a special kind of political amnesia, one that always suits their own purposes.

  20. FuzzyRabbit says:


  21. nofauxnews says:

    I want him to nominate himself and then make a recess appointment to the court before the inauguration next January.

  22. nofauxnews says:

    The really scary thing is that this dimwit of all dimwits was attorney general of her state but thinks a POTUS nominating someone to the SCOTUS is “unconstitutional”. But then, she was the AG of a state that just voted for TRUMPty DUMPty so we can’t expect too much.

  23. woodroad34 says:

    This is what passes for a “leader”? She’s a lawyer who doesn’t know the law?

  24. MoonDragon says:

    If they don’t at least discuss and vote on this (even to say “No”), President Sanders/Clinton should nominate the “Islamo-fascist socialist Kenyan” for the post, just to watch heads explode.

  25. dommyluc says:

    Maggie Hassan is going to ram this right up Ms. Ayotte’s oh-so-Republican ass!

  26. dommyluc says:

    Kelly Ayotte, The Battered Republican Wife of the U.S. Senate. Every time she speaks she looks as though she is so afraid of saying something that may upset her abusive husband (in this case, every Teabagger male member of both houses of Congress), and then have to go home and face his wrath. But, of course, if there was good legislation to protect battered women across this country, Ayotte would vote, like her misogynist male Republican colleagues, against it, since any legislation like that might be construed as a naked “unconstitutional power grab”.

  27. Michelle Johnson says:

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  28. rmthunter says:

    That’s the whole problem. For the Republicans, at least.

  29. rmthunter says:

    “She has been recognized as one of the most effective members of the Senate. . . .”

    That’s not saying much.

  30. BeccaM says:

    This woman is clearly unfit to be a United States Senator, given she doesn’t understand the most basic aspects of the Constitution she swore to ‘uphold, protect, and defend.’ Or, more likely, she knows perfectly well, but has chosen to spew lies at the public.

    And the provisions in the Constitution don’t say the President may fill court vacancies, but that he (or she) SHALL fill them.

    Were the situation reversed, party-wise, the Republicans would be screaming bloody murder if Senate Democrats threatened to filibuster and discard a GOP president’s lawful and constitutionally required Supreme Court nomination.

  31. The_Fixer says:

    This woman is spouting off with the intention of further riling up those who don’t pay attention, yet profess to be terribly concerned about abuse of power, the details of the Constitution, and any manner of things that they really know nothing about.

    This is a totally irresponsible course of action on her part, and if the voters of New Hampshire had any amount of genuine civic interest in their brains, they would throw this ridiculous woman out on her ear.

    She’s a lunkhead. She deserves to be ignored for the rest of her political life.

  32. marknc says:

    Wrong. They are crazies with a you tube channel whom the Republicans elected to Congress.

  33. grandpamike1 says:

    New Hampshire

    I know that the state is Conservative, but after an overwhelming response to Bernie Sanders, it is about time you elected a Democrat to be the Senator from your state.
    Signed, most of America.

  34. grandpamike1 says:

    Why don’t you just STFU already.

  35. judybrowni says:

    BREAKING NEWS: President Obama still black — and a Democrat.

  36. UncleBucky says:

    Right, Ayotte, that’s how the GOP has done it from Nixon to the present…

  37. douglas01 says:

    Senator Ayotte is a total blooming idiot and not qualified to serve in the Senate.

  38. Houndentenor says:

    This is insane. These are elected officials, not some crazies with a youtube channel! I guess they can vote down anyone Obama nominates, and they may well do that. I don’t think that will help them in November. This is the nonsense the GOP has been fueling for 30 years now. It’s what they wanted. I hope they are happy. I’m embarrassed for our country as the rest of the world watches this shit show, but nothing we can do about it until we can elect sane people to office.

  39. Grant Saw says:

    Republicans would fail a lie-detector test with the crap they spew.

  40. It’s only “unconstitutional” when a Democrat does it.

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